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Photo: Elijah Jamal Balbed
Photo: Elijah Jamal Balbed

A Day in the Life: DC Drummer Isabelle De Leon

Encouraged by family, Isabelle De Leon has been playing music since she was four and the drums since she was seven. But hers is not a story of a child prodigy forced into a life of performance at any cost. De Leon has talent in spades, and she marches to the beat of her own drums. As an early teen, De Leon found a deep connection in writing music. She has since made it her mission to use the power of music to inspire and heal, and she does it in hundreds of different ways. On any given day, you can find her jetting from one gig to another, running jam sessions, teaching music lessons, serving as an ambassador to the DC music community and being the kickass lady drummer in a rock band.

At 27, De Leon has already played major venues including the Kennedy Center and DAR Constitution Hall, is the recipient of countless music scholarships and recognitions – including a stint as a Strathmore Artist in Residence – and still finds time to rock out with local synth-pop bands Prinze George and Paperwhite, and funk/soul band Lionize. Even with her many accomplishments, the local musician remains humble. On Tap caught up with De Leon to learn more about her  “constant learning journey” and how the musician incorporates her life experiences into the music she plays.

On Tap: You’ve played all over the country. What keeps you in DC?
Isabelle De Leon: I’m from Montgomery County, so not far. I’ve always loved the city, and it was always a dream of mine to move here and be more immersed in the scene. It’s great because the music scene is very active so there are a lot of opportunities to perform and meet other musicians. What’s cool about being here is that DC is a much smaller city but there’s still a lot happening, and I feel like I can be part of creating something here versus where it’s already oversaturated.

OT: You started out playing music at a young age with your family. How did your relationship with music develop as a child?  
IDL: It was always a family thing. My whole family played music. My dad was the one who taught us music when we were really young. He was teaching us all piano, guitar and bass. When I was seven, he brought home a drum set and taught me some basic things. At that point, he started asking each of us which instrument we wanted to take lessons for. I think he had a vision for what to steer us each toward. Our whole family played at church every weekend, and that was where we really learned about music theory, chord structures, arrangements and how to play in an ensemble – the nuances of improvising, taking cues and listening to each other. Those things are really valuable and hard to teach in a classroom.

OT: What drew you to the drums?
IDL: One of our favorite movies [growing up] was Selena, and it’s even more precious now because their story was very similar to ours. Their dad loved music and started them young, playing in this family band. I just remember that scene where he’s trying to get Suzette to play the drums and she’s adamantly protesting and she’s like, “Girls don’t play the drums.” And for some reason, I took that as, “Oh, I’m going to play the drums now and prove everybody wrong and show people that girls can play the drums.” So that was one of the reasons why I wanted to pursue it.

OT: It can be hard to make a career out of your passion. How did you make music both for you?
IDL: When I was really young, I didn’t know any other female drummers except [Santana’s] Cindy Blackman, who I idolized and still do. I realized that I was in a very unique position being a woman on a male-dominated instrument, and also being a woman minority in the music industry. I realized there was a power in that, in being able to inspire young girls to go out for things that people were telling them they couldn’t do. In a way, that’s really what my mission is. It’s one of the reasons why I feel like I can’t ever quit, necessarily. I yearn for that kind of figure I can look up to myself, and if I can be that for someone else who needs a role model, I would love to be that person for them.

OT: How does being a Filipino woman in this space affect what you do within the creative industry in DC?
IDL: Being a female drummer already sets me as a minority, and that’s something I’ve experienced my whole life. But one thing that I didn’t realize until I was much older was what my identity was and who I was. We grew up primarily around white people and because of that, I felt in a way more connected to American culture even though I know I don’t look “American.” But in Filipino circles, I didn’t feel like I fit in, in a way. That same kind of conflict came out when I started studying jazz music and participating in the DC music scene.

OT: What challenges have you faced breaking into the local jazz scene? 
IDL: Right now, I’m trying to get better at and play jazz, funk and soul music that’s oriented around really groovy drumming. There was an instance recently where it came to my attention that some people either roll their eyes at me when I come and play or they kind of judge me because according to them, I didn’t grow up in the “church” so I don’t really have a gospel background. That was hurtful because first of all, it’s not true. Also, music is supposed to be about camaraderie, sharing and connection. People who get hateful like that, or just bitter, defeat the purpose of what we do.

OT: You recently started a regular jam session at Pearl Street Warehouse. Is that a jazz series?
IDL: It’s called Southwest Soul Sessions. It’s not specifically jazz per se. I actually started the jam session with Elijah Jamal Balbed, who’s also an accomplished musician here, and our goal with the session was to bridge all of our music communities in DC. I’ve done a lot of work in the rock and pop scenes, and he’s very heavy in the jazz, R&B and go-go scenes. We realized that together, we would have a vast network of people and we really wanted to bring all of them together. The great thing about jam sessions is that you’re playing with people you may have never played with before and may never again. But in that moment, you’re just trying to create something that’s different and bring all of your influences to the table. We really wanted it to be like a dance party too, and Pearl Street Warehouse is perfect for that.

OT: You are very accomplished and constantly working on different projects. What keeps you focused and awake?
IDL: I’ve always known what my goals are. They’re pretty big, but I also have some that are more tangible like to be Beyoncé’s drummer. [Laughs] One thing that my mom taught me early on was to write down your priorities and goals and make lists of steps that you can take to get there. I make sure I check in with myself pretty regularly. My overall goals have been the same since I started to really pursue music, and I always keep that in the back of my mind. It’s really important to always remember your “Why?” It’s also important to take a break every once in awhile. There are days where I don’t do anything music-related.

OT: What do you enjoy doing on those days away from the music scene?
IDL: I really enjoy movies. I love being adventurous and trying new things, whether it’s an activity I’ve never done or something like bowling or just going on a walk in a park. I love cooking and catching up with friends. Relationships are really important to me, so I try to make sure I stay in touch with the people who are important and make time for them. I also really love shopping. I don’t mind spending money to beautify my room, because I’m creating music there and it needs to be a place of inspiration and a beautiful place that I can relax in and enjoy. My room is pretty decked out and full of plants.

Follow De Leon on Instagram at @isabelledeleon_ and on Facebook at @IsabelleDeLeonMusic. Learn more about her Southwest Soul Sessions with Balbed at www.pearlstreetwarehouse.com and sign up for drum lessons with her at www.7drumcity.com.

Photo: Shantel Mitchell Breen
Photo: Shantel Mitchell Breen

This is SOME Burger Battle

When you think summer, many images come to mind. From beaches to barbecues, the warmest season brings with it outdoor adventures and meals to be had. Two constants for most folks during the middle months are beers and burgers, and luckily for you, DC Burger Battle is slated to host its second annual event on August 23.

Meat and beer lovers will gather at the Hill Country Backyard Barbecue lawn at the National Building Museum as 10 restaurants battle burger vs. burger to see who reigns supreme. This year’s participants are b DC Penn Quarter, Bullfeathers, Blackfinn Ameripub, The Capital Burger, Due South, Hard Rock Cafe, Hill Country Barbecue Market, Rebellion, Sign of the Whale and Stoney’s on L. (More info on the participants below.)

While this event is meant to get people out and celebrating the weather, the DC Burger Battle also acts as a benefit for the nonprofit organization So Others Might Eat (SOME), which provides food, clothing and health care to impoverished people in DC.

“We know there’s about 7,000 people experiencing homelessness in Washington, and the number of people living in poverty is more than that,” says Kate Wiley, SOME’s marketing and communications manager. “We provide crucial services for people to help get by and improve their quality of life. We hope people are excited and motivated by our great cause, and we appreciate the support.”

Aside from the contributions from proceeds, SOME is also excited to gain more traction with young professionals. For them, the added exposure makes participating in events like these a no-brainer because if people can find out more about them, they may be more likely to get involved.

“We’re excited to be able to share what we do with a whole new audience,” Wiley says. “We just want to get our name recognition out there, and we’re able to provide a description of a multitude of services that are talked about onstage.”

Though SOME provides a serious contribution to the residents of the District, even Wiley is excited to simply enjoy the outdoor weather in late August.

“I think there was a lot of enthusiasm around [last year’s] event and being able to have a good time but also support a good cause,” she says. “It’s gratifying for us to be a part of an event like that.”

The second annual DC Burger Battle takes place on Thursday, August 23 from 6-9 p.m. Tickets include burger samples and all-you-care-to-enjoy Budweiser. Tickets cost $30. Learn more at www.dcburgerbattle.com.

Hill Country Backyard Barbecue at the National Building Museum: 401 F St. NW, DC; 202-556-2050; www.dcburgerbattle.com


Burger Battlers

b DC Penn Quarter
Last year’s first-place finisher and Burger Battle champion, b DC Penn Quarter offers a variety of burgers at their locations including some non-beef varieties. “Our featured burger will be the same as last year, the Classic B Cheeseburger, with meat, cheese and bread, keeping it simple and focusing on what’s important: the beef,” says general manager Brian Beauregard. 801 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, DC; www.burgersbeerbourbon.com

Blackfinn Ameripub
A serious competitor, Blackfinn Ameripub brings real ingredients by real people, and their menu always delivers a competitive burger. Though they don’t get wild with the ingredients; they focus on a traditional style, and the flavor is always present. 1620 I St. NW, DC; www.blackfinnameripub.com

Bullfeathers
With a name like Bullfeathers, you know this eatery means business. Their approach to burgers is not to be taken lightly; with a number of signature styles, variety is always an option at Bullfeathers. 410 1st St. SE, DC; www.fb.com/BullfeathersDC

The Capital Burger
Touting what they call “luxury burgers,” the Capital Burger offers a myriad of options at their brick-and-mortar site including their famous Capital Burger, featuring caramelized onions, Wisconsin Grand Cru gruyère and shallot aioli. 1005 7th St. NW, DC; www.thecapitalburger.com

Due South
A returning competitor from last year’s edition, Rusty Holman says they are still fine-tuning their burger for this year’s battle. “We will start with a high-quality brisket and chuck blend beef patty.” If you like meat on top of your meat, Due South might be for you. 301 Water St. SE, DC; www.duesouth.com

Hard Rock Cafe
Known for their décor and memorabilia adorning the restaurant, Hard Rock also serves up a fantastic burger. Last year’s burger featured a Budweiser beer sauce, look for something creative this year too. 999 E St. NW, DC; www.hardrock.com

Hill Country Barbecue Market
Though they don’t have a burger on their regular menu, the hosting Hill Country Barbecue grilled exquisite patties last year. While their expertise may lie in barbecue, the burgers from Hill Country at the DC Burger Battle will leave you wanting them when you visit the restaurant. 410 7th St. NW, DC; www.hillcountry.com

Rebellion DC
As their website says, this restaurant values American history, and when delving into the archives of our country, great burgers make frequent appearances. Count on Rebellion to carry on the tradition of churning out this delicious American favorite. 1836 18th St. NW, DC; www.rebelliondc.com

Sign of the Whale
Even though they deliver a mean crab dip and lobster bisque, Sign of the Whale is also purveyors of several burger styles including their namesake Whale Burger, which includes a patty served in between two grilled cheese sandwiches. 1852 M St. NW, DC: www.thewhaledc.com

Stoney’s
Stoney’s delivers a plethora of options at their DC location including the Stoney’s Burger, One Eye Burger and other classic variations. Be sure to try their special sauce. 1433 P St. NW, DC; www.stoneys-dc.com

Dc Beer Week

What’s On Tap: August 2018

Greetings, beer nerds! As you likely know, there are a number of fantastic spots in the DMV where you can grab a pint, and their menus are always evolving and adapting to your tastes. If you’d rather avoid the guessing game, check out what’s coming up at a few of these fine establishments.

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1

My Imaginary Girlfriend at Lost Rhino Brewing Company
Join Lost Rhino Brewing Company for the release of their My Imaginary Girlfriend IPA. The brewery will have special pricing, giveaways and an opportunity to show off your gaming skills. There is a limited amount of M.I.G. available in cans at the brewery – only 300 cases are available. Festivities start at 1 p.m., free to attend. Lost Rhino: 21730 Red Rum Dr. Ste. 142, Ashburn, VA; www.lostrhino.com

Summer of Sour Series: De Leite
The Sovereign is thrilled to pour six drafts from one of their favorite lesser-known brewers in Belgium: Brouwerij De Leite. Highlights include Cuvée Jeune Homme, a perfectly balanced bitter-sour gem, and Cuvée Soeur’ise, in which a base tripel is soured with lacto then rolled into wine barrels with whole sour Polish cherries for six months. They will also have some Fils a Papa V, a strong ale aged in Bruichladdich Scotch barrels. 5-11 p.m. Free to attend. The Sovereign: 1206 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.thesovereigndc.com

Unibroue Beer Dinner
Featuring salmon tartare, filet mignon and house made cheesecake, Granville Moore’s is offering a wonderful food lineup for the Unibroue beer pairing. All guests will receive the official Unibroue cookbook and glassware. Unibroue is located in Chambly, Quebec and is world-famous for their adaptation of traditional Belgian ales of the Trappiste varieties and food pairings with traditional French and Belgian cuisine. 7-10 p.m. $60. Granville Moore’s: 1238 H St. NE, DC; www.granvillemoores.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 2

CyberBrews
Join for an evening of networking, conversation and drinks with industry peers. We’re talking all things cyber and folks from the Fifth Domain’s award-winning editorial team will be there to chat with you. Oh, and beer, of course. 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free to attend. Tysons Biergarten: 8346 Leesburg Pike, Tysons, VA; www.tysonsbiergarten.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3

Lost in the Wilderness at ChurchKey
ChurchKey will tap six exceptional beers from the two hard-to-find West Coast brewers. Headlining the list is a rare keg of the Lost Abbey Falling Rock, brewed for legendary beer bar Falling Rock Tap House’s 21st anniversary. This special brew is a blend of a sour blonde ale with nectarines, a cherry-infused sour red ale and a tequila barrel-aged beer. There is no admission fee for this event. All beers will be priced individually by the glass and in 4-oz. tasting pours. 4-11 p.m. Free to attend. ChurchKey: 1337 14th St. NW, DC; www.churchkeydc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

DC Country Crawl
The DC Country Crawl is the largest, wildest and rowdiest country-themed bar crawl in the city. Put on your boots and Daisy Dukes because it’s time to saddle up to the best bars on U Street. With admission, you’ll receive a signature country mug, rowdy party favors, cover free access to the U Street corridor’s best venues, specials, pictures and a raffle entry for prizes. DC Country Crawl: Various locations on U Street in NW, DC; www.projectdcevents.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 8

Guided Cider Tasting
The District’s newest cidery, Capitol Cider House, is opening up on a Wednesday for a special treat: a grand tasting with the cider maker. You’ll learn about how cider is made and get a tour of the production area. The best part: you’ll be able to taste 10 Mid-Atlantic ciders. Following the tasting, the venue will remain open for those wishing to partake in the rest of the menu. 6-9 p.m. Tickets $20. Capitol Cider House: 3930 Georgia Ave. NW, DC; www.capitolciderhouse.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

Port City Beer Event Featuring King Street Bluegrass and Big Timber
Join Port City Brewing Company at Union Stage for this free event featuring an extensive tap list of the brewery’s best beers, plus a full menu. The event will also feature music from King Street Bluegrass, a traditional blues/folk band from DC, and Big Timber. Drinks at 5 p.m., music at 7 p.m. Free to attend. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

MONDAY, AUGUST 13

Summer GAINs: 5K and Beer Tasting
Start your week off with a Monday evening run from Port City Brewing Company, now back to runs every Monday evening. Runners meet at the brewery tasting room before heading out for a one, three or five-mile run (it’s an out-and-back route so really, it’s as long as you care to make it). It’s a pleasant route through a park, then picking up a paved path along Holmes Run. 6:30-9 p.m. Port City Brewing: 3950 Wheeler Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.portcitybrewing.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

8th Annual Cask Night at District ChopHouse
Don’t miss the eighth annual cask night at District ChopHouse featuring “Casks and Classics.” This tasting event features 20 local casks, abundant ChopHouse food offerings and a professional glass. 6-11 p.m. $50 per person. District ChopHouse and Brewery: 509 7th St. NW, DC; www.districtchophouse.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Paint Your Glass Off
At this beer-themed Paint Your Glass Off party, you will receive two glasses to paint (pilsner or stein), a glass of beer, all the supplies needed to paint your glass off, chances to win prizes, music, and of course, the opportunity to purchase amazing, delectable, scrumptious and savory food at happy hour prices. 1-3 p.m. Tickets $35. Brew Republic Bierwerks: 15201 Potomac Town Pl. Woodbridge, VA; www.brewrepublic.beer

Pizzeria Paradiso Summer Fest
This season’s beer fest will take place at Pizzeria Paradiso’s Dupont Circle location, which includes the spot’s lovely patio. Enjoy unlimited pizza and beer, included in ticket purchase for the four-hour event. The summer fest will also feature a draft line of rare and exception beers from several breweries. 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m. Tickets $80. Pizzeria Paradiso: 2003 P St. NW, DC; www.eatyourpizza.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

5th Annual Battle of the Barrel Ages
Brought to you by Boundary Stone Public House, local brewing legends DC Brau, Atlas, 3 Stars and Right Proper square off in a battle royale of barrel-aged beers. A panel of judges as well as the popular vote from the public will decide which brewery wins the coveted dedicated draft line for an entire year. 5:30-10:30 p.m. Boundary Stone: 116 Rhode Island Ave. NW, DC; www.boundarystonedc.com

Tap Challenge at Dacha
When talking about a new Double IPA on tap, Dacha Beer Garden thought, “Our beer club members could help!” This week, Dacha will feature three mystery Double IPAs and ask customers which one tastes best. Buy a flight and vote for which beer you think should be the beer garden’s newest tap line. 4-10:30 p.m. Free to attend. Dacha Beer Garden: 1600 7th St. NW, DC; www.dachadc.com

Sneak Peek: DC Beer Week 2018

The week-long celebration of the DMV’s craft beer scene is back once again. Presented by the DC Brewers’ Guild, the 10th annual DC Beer Week is set to run from Sunday, August 19 to Sunday, August 26. Throughout the week, local breweries, restaurants, bars and community partners are set to offer unique tastings, collaborations and events. Taste delicious brews and learn all about the world of craft beer at educational seminars. Below is just a taste of what you’ll see, as events are still being planned for the week. Be sure to check out www.dcbeerweek.net for more information as the dates draw near.

SUNDAY, AUGUST 19

DC Brewers’ Guild/City Winery Lager Fest
Lager Fest is an event planned by the local brewing community to showcase this region’s best lagers for your enjoyment. This event will bring together more than 30 craft breweries for an afternoon of refreshing lager-style beers, pilsners and related summer favorites, including hard-to-find brews. The event will also feature live music from some of your favorite local bands. 1-5 p.m. $40. City Winery DC: 1350 Okie St. NE, DC; www.dcbeerweek.net

TUESDAY, AUGUST 21

DC Beer Week: The Art of Beer
Phil Runco of Brightest Young Things will moderate a panel discussion about the current state of art, design and the beer industry. This event will focus on the work that goes into the designs featured on the labels, posters and logos of area breweries. Learn more about the process of art design in the beer industry while drinking some local brews. 6-8 p.m. Tickets $15. Carriage House Gallery: 1921 Sunderland Pl. NW, DC; www.heurichhouse.org

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 22

DC Brau Brewing/Jameson Game Night at the Eleanor
DC Brau and Jameson will host a Wednesday evening party at the newly opened Eleanor to celebrate their caskmates partnership. 5-11 p.m. The Eleanor: 100 Florida Ave. NE, DC;
www.eleanordc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 25

5th Annual Brewers on The Block
Don’t miss out on brews, food, music and more. Buffalo & Bergen and Suburbia are proud to announce the fifth annual Brewers on the Block at Union Market’s Suburbia, bringing together more than 20 of the region’s top breweries, cideries and meaderies along with friends of the block from across the country. 5-9 p.m. Union Market: 1309 5th St. NE, DC;
www.unionmarketdc.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 26

Fire Works Pizza 8th Anniversary Bash and Solidarity Pig Roast
Celebrate Fire Work’s anniversary and DC Beer Week 2018 with a solidarity pig roast. Chef Thomas will be firing up the grill and serving roasted pig, street corn and potato salad, plus enjoy live music, drink specials, prizes and giveaways. Be the first in Virginia to taste the DC Brewers’ Guild collaboration, Solidarity Pilsner, in cans. The price of a ticket gets you all-you-can-eat, plus one can of Solidarity Pilsner, Right Proper Brewing Raised by Wolves or Atlas Ponzi IPA. 12-8 p.m. $20 per ticket. Fire Works Pizza Arlington: 2350 Clarendon Blvd. Arlington, VA; www.fireworkspizza.com

Photo: Courtesy of Ben Folds
Photo: Courtesy of Ben Folds

Ben Folds Breaks Boundaries Because He Can

When Ben Folds rolls through Merriweather Post Pavilion on August 18 on his co-headlining tour with Cake, he’ll be nearing his 52nd birthday with 30-plus years of music business experience under his belt. Lots of musicians play their music for decades, and while it’s impressive to have the wherewithal to endure any extended stretch in a creative field, Folds is unusual in how he uses his reputation. He takes risks, he gets scared and he keeps pushing forward.

“It’s a big, organic mess,” he says. “Sometimes, I get really interested in something and pursue it. You never know the best thing to do, but the common thread in the whole thing is I follow what I’m interested in. That can be very different day-to-day, and I have to live with it. Sometimes I’ll be interested in something and agree to a future show, and then in six months, I’ll be like, ‘What the hell?’”

This “What the hell?” feeling isn’t new for Folds. In fact, it’s what motivates him at this point in his career. This is the reason he agreed to satirize himself on the FX show You’re the Worst, and the reason he’s done bizarre covers like “Bitches Ain’t Shit” over the course of his career. His range in musical interests is boundless as he bounces from rock band to piano soloist to orchestra composer. But before he jumps headfirst – or onstage – for new projects, he’s a little scared.

“Now I have to arrange all these weird things [for the show] and it’s exciting. It’s a slightly scary tour, and it doesn’t have to be big things – it can be small things.”

Folds is not a risk-averse artist based on his collaborations – William Shatner and Weird Al Yankovic among them – to the genres he finds himself dabbling in. Part of his confidence in floating from idea to idea comes from his longevity in the industry, which he says grants him more opportunities to be a little off the wall.

“I get more leeway every year,” he says. “After awhile, they’re like, ‘He wants to try that? F—k it, let him do it.’ Nothing is probably going to kill [my career], so I get to be less and less responsible really, and it serves me well. It’s what they call in U.K. politics a backbencher. It makes for a creative career that’s fun for me.”

This unpredictable path wouldn’t be as riveting to watch from the outside if not for his prolific nature in releasing projects and music.

“I don’t really have an answer. I don’t think I’m particularly superhuman. You’ll be doing one thing, and it’ll sit on the shelf for awhile, and then it’ll come out together with another project. Right now, I’m writing a book, so I’m spending my time on that and then I’ll go to next thing.”

Slated to be a biography full of advice for musicians, Folds says he’s gotten into a good groove with the switch from writing lyrics to penning prose.

“There’s an adjustment for sure, because when you have what seems like unlimited real estate, you have to find your pace and it takes a little bit of time. I think it’s true that you never learn how to write a book, just the one you’re on. Right now, I’m cranking out 3,000 words a day.”

As for more on what the words are about, Folds puts it simply with, “We’re all interested in a good journey, no matter what part you’re on.”

Learn more about Ben Folds at www.benfolds.com.

See Ben Folds and Cake at Merriweather Post Pavilion on Saturday, August 18. Tall Heights will open. Tickets start at $45. Doors at 5:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m.

Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; 410-715-5550; www.merriweathermusic.com

Photo: Kimberly Adamis
Photo: Kimberly Adamis

Lots of Heart On Ann Wilson’s Latest Album

Heart is one of the most popular rock bands of all time, with a catalog of hits like 70s and 80s radio staples “Alone,” “Crazy on You,” “Barracuda” and “These Dreams,” among many others. These classic rockers have sold more than 35 million records on the strength of Ann Wilson’s iconic voice and her sister Nancy’s exceptional guitar work.

While the Rock & Roll Hall of Famers are currently on hiatus, Ann Wilson is concentrating on her solo career this summer. She’s set to release a new album in mid-September and is now on tour with Jeff Beck and Paul Rodgers in what the trio is calling the Stars Align Tour.

“Touring for me is exciting as it ever was, and I still love it just as much as I ever have,” Wilson says. “This show is about the mastery of Jeff Beck, the incredible bluesy voice of Paul Rodgers and what I’m doing, so people can be rest assured they will go away humming.”

The tour makes a stop at Wolf Trap on August 20, though Rodgers will be MIA with only Wilson and Beck performing at the Filene Center.

“I’m not going to be harking back to the Heart stuff almost at all,” Wilson says of her upcoming set. “I only have one Heart song planned on the night. I’ll basically be covering the songs on my new record and doing songs that I have written over the last few years. It’s going to be really different but a lot of fun.”

Even though some fans may be disappointed that there’s not more Heart tunes being played, Wilson expects everyone to still enjoy her performance as most will be familiar with many of the songs. She feels it’s more important to support her new record than to draw from Heart’s discography.

“What I wanted with this [tour] is to be able to be shown as a singer. So far, we’ve done one show on this tour, but we got a fantastic response. I of course pay tribute to Heart by doing the one song, but I wanted to be brave and live on the edge and do new stuff.”

Wilson’s new release, Immortal, is named after the concept of the album, which is a tribute to some of the legendary musicians who are making the band in rock ‘n’ roll heaven even stronger.

“One of the criteria [for the album] was that all of the artists had passed on in the last few years,” she says. “The expressions these artists left in these songs are really great work, with great lyrics and great poetry. They need to be passed down in an oral tradition, sort of like cave drawings. They need to be left for generations to dig.”

With 10 tracks, Wilson pays homage to some of her favorite artists on songs that aren’t usually the first ones associated with the late musicians. For instance, her tribute to George Michael is with the song “A Different Corner” from his Wham! days, while she chose “Luna” to honor Tom Petty.

“I didn’t want to just go and cover a bunch of hits. My main theme was to honor the artists, so I went back through their bodies of work and found songs that really resonated with me, and it was really satisfying. I wanted to get really personal with the artists’ work.”

Of all the artists, she knew Chris Cornell the best, and honors him with the song “I Am the Highway.”

“I really love that song, and I wanted to bring it into a slightly softer acoustic mood without going all acoustic. I even play a flute solo in it. I just wanted the song to have a swing and be something people could feel ‘up’ about. The song itself is part of [Cornell’s] heart, and a wonderful song.”

Other tunes on the album include “A Thousand Kisses Deep” by Leonard Cohen, “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse and “You Don’t Own Me” by Lesley Gore. All three offer genres a little different than Wilson is usually associated with.

“I let the songs tell me what to do. The Cohen song is almost jazz and the Winehouse tune is almost gothic chamber music, so it’s definitely different for me. I welcome that and relish that. I’m always trying to push my boundaries out.”

Wilson is already thinking about what comes next after her tour ends. She’s formulating and developing an idea for an interactive storytelling tour and will continue writing when the mood hits her.

“I’m going to continue experimenting and moving ahead as long as I continue to enjoy it all,” she says. “I’m never going to become old and stale and do the same thing over and over. That’s not who I am.”

Catch Ann Wilson with Jeff Back at Wolf Trap’s Filene Center on Monday, August 20 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $35-$75, and can be purchased at
www.wolftrap.org. Learn more about Wilson at www.annwilsonofheart.com.

Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; 703-255-1800; www.wolftrap.org

kina_grannis

Music Picks: August 2018

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 1

Kina Grannis and Imaginary Future
High school sweethearts turned singing and songwriting power couple Kina Grannis and Imaginary Future (Jesse Epstein) are bringing their soft acoustic sounds to the Birchmere stage this summer. I expect them to perform a decent amount of duets together (they have quite a few),  and a few covers of other popular songs you may know. Grannis, a YouTube success story, has found her own niche in the music industry after being signed to Interscope and becoming independent shortly after. In 2017 Grannis created KG records, a label supported entirely by her fans via Patreon. Her newest release  In the Waiting is the first album to debut on the label. If you’re a fan, especially one that donated to this project, I highly encourage you to come out and experience her new music in person. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $25. The Birchmere Music Hall: 3701 Mount Vernon Ave. Alexandria, VA; www.birchmere.com

Victory
After just one listen to her cover of Feeling Good, I can see that Victory Boyd has rightfully earned the comparisons to the great Nina Simone. Her unique blend of folk, soul, and  jazz makes for a refreshingly new take on all three genres. The Detroit-born singer/guitarist got her start busking in NYC after her family relocated to a nearby New Jersey suburb. After making waves on social media from a video of her singing recorded by a passerby, her music caught Jay-Z’s eye and she was signed to Roc Nation. Her newest album The Broken Instrument should serve as an inspiration to any musician that aspires to showcase their art on a larger platform. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-$20. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3

Sons of Bill
The Sons of Bill mean their name in all seriousness. Aside from the bassist and the drummer, they really are the sons of Bill, a theology and Southern literature professor at the University of Virginia. Their father is also a musician and taught his three boys to sing and play guitar, and they like to talk about how they had to because they had no TV or radio otherwise growing up, but listen to their songs and you’ll hear that his lessons weren’t limited to chords only. Doors are at 6:30 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 3 –  SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival 
Working Order Records and Black Cat are coming together to host Tiny Cat Dark Music Festival. What’s so great about this festival, besides the fact that it’s called a “Dark Music Festival” and features acts like Hante., Kontravoid, Crash Course in Science, and more is that 100 percent of the proceeds from tickets sold go to Greater DC Diaper Bank. The nonprofit accepts donations to help get families the supplies they need for their baby, as well as providing personal hygiene products to those in need. Go and rock out for a good cause. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $20-$35. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4

Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai
Australian folk guitarist and singer Stu Larsen and Japanese harmonica player Natsuki Kurai recently announced a world tour in support of their latest EP together, Stu Larsen & Natsuki Kurai II, which comes five years after their first together in 2013. The unlikely duo first connected nearly eight years ago when Larsen first adopted his vagabond lifestyle in 2010. They met in Tokyo, Larsen spoke no Japanese and Kurai spoke no English, but they connected over music. Doors are at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. E Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

Takenobu
This folk string duo features Nick Ogawa on cello and Kathryn Koch on violin, both of whom have wide ranging credits. Koch is a regular member of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Ogawa tours with Kishi Bashi and composes for NPR’s “Invisibilia,” which probably explains the Takenobu style. They call their music folk, and thought there’s only two of them, their final sound is almost more like an orchestral take on folk, because of the live-looping they do. Doors are at 7 p.m. Entry is free with a suggested donation of $5. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

Wayne Wonder
Bliss Nightclub is throwing an outdoor music festival featuring a live performance from Wayne Wonder, the man who gave us the ever-iconic “No Letting Go” in 2003. In this song’s 15 year existence, there has never been a moment when I’ve heard this song at a party or in a club that the mood didn’t immediately change to summer vacation romance and whoever was next to you when it came on became the love of your life for the next three minutes. I don’t know if he performs often, so don’t miss this. Gates open at 2 p.m. Show at 4 p.m. Tickets $30. Bliss Nightclub: 2122 24th Pl. NE, DC; www.blissdc.com

Yung Bae
This one is a show which some people never imagined might happen. Yung Bae is an artist who like so many of his future funk contemporaries, e.g. Saint Pepsi, got his start on YouTube and it was unclear whether it would ever go beyond that, but also, like Saint Pepsi, Yung Bae has started to take his show on the road, and that he’s playing Flash shows the caliber of his purely-for-fun, purely-for-dancing beats. Doors are at 4 p.m. Tickets are $15. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

Zigtebra
At Slash Run, in addition to great burgers you can often find undersold touring band playing alongside some up and coming DC bands. This time it’s Zigtebra, a dream pop duo from Chicago with sound that’s like a somewhat spookier Postal Service. And playing with them is Stronger Sex, another duo, making experimental electronic. The show will also feature Lambda Celsius and visionary artist Katie Macyshyn. Slash Run: 201 Upshur St. NW, DC; www.slashrun.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 4 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 5

Summer Spirit Festival
The folks at Merriweather have brought together your favorite R&B, rap, hip-hop, and neo-soul artists to celebrate the summer. There’ something for everybody when you’ve got classics like Erykah Badu, Nas, The Roots and Backyard Band sharing a stage with newer artists like Lizzo, Daniel Caesar, Phony PPL and many more. It’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. Doors at 1 p.m. Tickets start at $108. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SUNDAY, AUGUST 5

Christian Loffler
If Christian Loffler couldn’t find the beat, you might find him a bummer. Unlike his German contemporaries coming out of Berlin, Loffler grew up in a remote part of the country and had to teach himself to make electronic music on his own, which he began to do as a sort of escape from and deep dive into his surroundings. Throughout his music you can hear a sort of melancholy, almost like if Bon Iver remade For Emma, only this time as dance music. Doors are at 4 p.m. Tickets start at $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

Juice WRLD
Riding off the high of his single “Lucid Dreams” hitting #3 on the Billboard charts, 19-year-old Chicago rapper Jared Higgins (a.k.a. Juice WRLD) will be coming to Echostage. Based on the success of his debut singles added to the ability to hold his own on the freestyle he dropped for HOT 97 back in mid-July, it’s clear that Juice WRLD is poised to make his mark in the rap world. His style lies somewhat in the vein of the sadboi rap that’s been circulating the airwaves as of late, but I’m looking forward to seeing what new elements he can bring to the genre. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $30-130. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

Lunar Vacation
This indie quartet is so young and yet has a style that’s so throwback that you might think they’re someone else’s brainchild. And if you only were to see the band’s pictures you might have had enough at that point, but once you hear their music, it’s hard to turn away from something so unabashedly gorgeous. It’s like 90s throwback indie rock with the production values of dream pop bands Wild Nothing or Real Estate. Doors are at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 9

Rae Sremmurd, Wiz Khalifa
Wiz Khalifa recently caught some flak for his hyper-masculine take on why straight men shouldn’t eat bananas (hint: they’re too phallic for his liking), but this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t support my faves Rae Sremmurd who have never not given us a bop since their 2014 radio debut “No Flex Zone.”  The co-headliners will be supported by O.T. Genasis and Lil Skies. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets $28-$183. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.bristowamphitheater.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11

Alice Bag
Comet Ping Pong is another one of those venues around town that’s doesn’t receive enough attention as a music venue. Not only are the pizzas and drinks good, but you can also find some good music. This time it’s Alice Bag, formerly of the Bags and an LA-punk scene legend by this point. The Bags broke up in the 80s, but she’s been Alice Bag ever since and her latest music lacks none of the fury she first earned a name for. Alongside her will be local bands Homosuperior and Faunas. Doors are at 10 p.m. Tickets start at $15. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

Shakira
After postponing a majority of her tour in order to heal her strained vocal chords, Shakira is back in the U.S. for her El Dorado tour, named for her Latin Grammy winning (and Anglo Grammy nominated) 2017 album. Her newest single “Clandestino,” featuring frequent collaborator and fellow Colombian artist Maluma, is a smooth and summery reggaeton-tinged take on secret love. Shakira is a versatile artist who has an incredible resume. She’s acted in soap operas (and voice acted in Zootopia), served as a judge on the Voice, and had hit singles with both Rihanna and Beyonce on top of her own solo tracks, many of which she had a hand in writing. Plus, you just KNOW she has to do “Hips Don’t Lie,”  which you and I both know would be so fun to see and dance to live. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $86-$450. Capital One Arena: 601 F St. NW, DC; www.capitalonearena.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 11- SUNDAY, AUGUST 12

Moonrise Fest
Even though it’s out in Baltimore, it would be remiss of us to skip over one of the largest east-coast tours to come to this area every summer. Showcasing some of the best EDM, DnB, hip-hop and house acts, Moonrise “touches all corners of the dance floor”. The festival also features art installations and vendors, not to mention performances from Diplo, DJ Snake, Marshmello, Cashmere Cat, Vince Staples, Phantogram, A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie, and Gunna to name only a few. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m. both days. Tickets $99-$274.50. Pimlico Race Course: 5201 Park Heights Ave. Baltimore, MD; www.moonrisefestival.com

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 15 – THURSDAY, AUGUST 18

Rock and Roll Hotel 12th Anniversary
To honor more than a decade of existing as a performance space in the renowned H Street Corridor, the DC area venue is bringing together an eclectic mix of artists to perform. Nothing, nowhere. , Bat Fangs, The Messthetics, The Love Language, and Sparta will be performing all ages sets on separate nights at Rock and Roll Hotel to celebrate. Tickets $15-$20. See website for full list of times. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 16

Casual War
I’m trying to find where the “casual” part of Casual War comes in. In the what they publish about themselves they seem nonchalant, judging from not heavily curated Instagram, or the title of their EP, Demo, but the music’s a different story. Led by a frontwoman with a voice reminiscent of Nightwish and Evanescence, their take on indie rock can be dark and heavy. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

Cup
I have to say, this is one of the shows I’m most excited about this month. Cup’s music is a garage punk, very reminiscent of 80s punk music, but with a more angular and experimental approach. The Queens-based band will play alongside DC’s own Bottled Up who continue to rise through DC’s music venues and Ontario-based three piece rock outfit, Bike Thiefs. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

FRIDAY, AUGUST 17

Trombone Shorty and Galactic
I don’t know how much there is to be said about Trombone Shorty that The Anthem didn’t already say by featuring him as one of their first acts. But he’s not the only artist to be featured this night, not even the only one from New Orleans. New Orleans funk jam band Galactic as well as the Preservation Hall jazz band will perform as well, and no doubt there will be some set overlap. It should be a night of nonstop ecstatic music and outrageous musicianship. John Williams has nothing on this brass. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Wolf Trap’s Filene Center: 1551 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Vacationer
After a four-year hiatus, (I’m doing my best not to say vacation), Vacationer returned in 2018 with his latest record Mindset. The album artwork very much fits the spirit of the music. It pictures the silhouette of a head in profile which get smaller and smaller in concentric circles, or heads rather. It could be read as a topographical map and a matryoshka doll X-ray. It’s dreamy much like Vacationer’s synth and sample heavy tracks. Doors are at 7 p.m. Tickets are $20. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

SATURDAY, AUGUST 18

Crushnpain
This show was another unexpected find. Velvet Lounge is known for having great DJs, but often they play downstairs unannounced, but Crushnpain is getting the full billing this time. He’s a DC-based DJ, who from the sound of his shuffling drum and bass and his more deep house sounding tracks, I might have thought to find him at Flash, only he has no Resident Advisor page. But that only means you’ll be ahead of the curve. See him at Velvet Lounge because shortly he’ll get picked up elsewhere. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23

In The Whale / Company Calls
Colorado-based duo In The Whale is celebrating 7 years of making their high energy blend of garage rock by going on a massive U.S. tour until mid-October. During their time as a band the pair have graced stages at Lollapalooza, Riot Fest, AfroPunk, and Warped Tour (RIP). Their supporting act Company Calls hails from DC, was formed in ‘08, and shares its name with a Death Cab for Cutie song. Fun Fact: Someone from my old church youth group’s eldest sister is a member of the band, too. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

THURSDAY, AUGUST 23 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 26

Cyrus Chestnut
I’m sure you’ve heard jazz before, and maybe you think once you’ve heard, you’ve heard enough, but seeing it live is another thing, especially seeing someone of Cyrus Chestnut’s caliber. Georgetown’s a trip to get to, but Blues Alley is worth it. It’s in an actual alley and when you find yourself in the line out the door, you’ll realize you’re somewhere special. Plus, the po’boys are fantastic. Bring some good company, have some good food and watch Chestnut shred in the Oscar Peterson school. Shows are at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets start at $30. Blues Alley: 1073 Wisconsin Ave. NW, DC; www.bluesalley.com

TUESDAY, AUGUST 28

New Order
The incredibly iconic post punk outfit, born like a phoenix out of the ashes of Joy Division, embarks on a short tour this summer and DC is lucky enough to be a stop. See the band responsible for producing numerous 80s bops and influencing a pantheon of younger artists in the flesh at The Anthem. 8 p.m. show.Tickets start at $55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthem.com

Slaughter, Beach Dog
Modern Baseball came on the scene in 2012 and shortly established themselves as one of the most dominant pop punk bands on the scene. But this is not them, this is the solo project Modern Baseball guitarist and vocalist, Jake Ewald. Ewald released his second record under the name in 2017. It’s less pop and less punk, and a little more straight forward gorgeous indie songwriting, somewhat like a tamed AJJ. Doors are at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $13. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

THURSDAY, AUGUST 30

Lucki
Chicago-native Lucki was on the vanguard of today’s alterna-trap/mumble rap sound back when he was going by Lucki Eck$ in 2013. Since then, he’s collaborated with artists like FKA twigs, Chance The Rapper, King Krule and Danny Brown. After a series of setbacks and taking a hiatus from making music in 2018, Lucki is back posting new music on SoundCloud and working on new projects, the latest of which is a series of singles and his DAYS B4 II EP.  Though he’s only 21, I can tell he’s an artist that’s confident in his sound and style, and committed to re-distinguishing himself in the genre that many would argue he had a hand in making popular. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15-$50. Union Stage:  740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Ty Dolla $ign, Lil Uzi Vert, G-Eazy
I’m going to be honest here and say that I was confused when I saw this lineup and was under the impression that G-Eazy was the headliner on this tour. According to Rolling Stone though, these three are co-headlining, which I can accept (even though we all know it should be Lil Uzi or even Ty Dolla $ign off the strength of his features alone). YBN Nahmir, P-Lo and DJ Murda Beatz will also perform at this show, which is sure to be a nonstop party from start to finish. Doors at 6:30 p.m.. Tickets $33-$160. Jiffy Lube Live:  7800 Cellar Door Dr. Bristow, VA; www.bristowamphitheater.com

Image: Courtesy of Capital Fringe Festival
Image: Courtesy of Capital Fringe Festival

50 Ways… Proves Heartfelt and Hilarious

We all go through breakups. Some of them are hard and swift like a punch to a blind spot. Others are easy and light, two people knowingly nodding their head at the same time and then chuckling about the good times. There are quick breakups and long breakups, the kind you get over real quick and the kind that linger, leaving you feeling empty inside, especially when THAT song comes on.

The Capital Fringe Festival’s 50 Ways… explores the many varieties of the breakup, looking at 50 different scenarios where people, things leave the ones they held dearest. Like I said above, the emotional toll each take vary from crushing to hilarious, and co-directors Samir Bitar and Mahayana Landowne purposefully constructed the performance as a roller coaster.

In order to better understand the balancing act of assembling the massive number of vignettes in 50 Ways…, I was able to chat with Bitar about his involvement as director and choreographer, the play’s tonal shifts and the balancing act of piecing it all together.

On Tap: How did you get involved in the performance?
Samir Bitar: It was my longtime friend colaborator Mahayana Landowne, she’s a theatre director, creator and she pretty much only does experimental theatre. I wanted her to do something more traditional, so I urged her to enter here, and she said if I did she would, so hell yeah. We were about two months in, and she said she had an idea, she explained the song, which I knew. The idea of course, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” Paul Simon’s 1976 pop hit. He only spells out six ways in the song and we wanted to actualize the concept. We put the call out to our network and friends, and this is an international list of people, and we wanted to them to submit one minute vignettes. We got back 15 playwrights, and 14 of whom we chose. Together we put together 49, and I choreographed an original work not submitted by a playwright.

OT: Explain the diversity of the breakups, what can people expect?
SB: Some of these are heartfelt, there are two scenes by edler characters and his wife had fallen into dementia, and he has a monologue where he was about to go on a date. He’s ready to take a first step, and there’s another scene with the characters flipped, and his wife is hovering over him helping him ease off into the next world. He tells her he wants to die alone, and those are two heart wrenching moments on stage. Surrounded by a lot of levity and laughter, and even some abstract ones. It’s a really rich tableau.

OT: What was it like focusing and narrowing down the scenarios, because 14 writers is a lot of cooks in the kitchen?
SB: Collectively we have 38 years of theatre experience, and we’re both empaths, and we talked about how it would play out. We received them and spent a month familiarizing ourselves with them, and I went up to New York and we locked ourselves in a hotel for three days, and we read them, walked through them. Most of the plays came out heterosexual, and we’re very sensitive to that, and we carved out a certain number of those to be lesbian, gay and transgender as well. We wanted to avoid agism. There’s all kinds of pairings. There’s an old person leaving a young person, and a young person leaving an old person. A lot of the dramaturgy and scoring happened as early as March. We held auditions at the Hirshorn, and we had our first reading and read through on May 26. With anything living, you push and edit and tighten and pull.

OT: What was it like balancing the emotions of all the breakups?
SB: Well, you know, the question it’s sort of seems predicated on a narrative and we didn’t come at it that way. As an empathetic human, from the outset I was very keen on the overarching physical sense of the audience. We didn’t want too much stillness, and there are some that are wordy, and some that are silent with more abstract, with modern dancers. We really weren’t super specific, it was which of these clump well together, and we had to rearrange as to what actors were, and all variables were pretty equal in forcing the show order. [Landowne’s] first wash was very logical, as these things happen in a bar, and some wrote for high school scene to college scene.

OT: How important was it for you all to make these scenes relatable?
SB: Very, very, very. This is work with the actors. This is authentic work and extensive work with several gifted actors. It’s the penultimate and ultimate to be on top of authenticity. To make sure everyone understands the mood and the real dynamics that play out. There’s always subtext, and we worked very hard on body language, on prop use and facial expressions. Words, beats, cadence, rhythm: we honed in on all of this, so they could connect authentically to the script and play. It was important for the audience to connect, even if it’s ludicrous.

OT: How long was the initial cut? Fifty scenes in 70 minutes is a breakneck pace.
SB: Yeah, I think our first run through, was about 87 minutes. We made the call to our writers, that we may have to cut them down. It’s hard to imagine what will happen in a minute, some of our writers submitted rich ideas that didn’t make it in, because they’re too long. As dramaturg, it was up to [Landowne] to carve out words and remove sentences.

50 Ways… is part of the Capital Fringe Festival. The show’s final times are tonight at 7:15 p.m. and on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. Tickets for the Saturday performance can be purchased here.

Christ United Methodist Church: 900 4th St. SW, DC; 866-811-4111; www.capitalfringe.org

Photo: Jolie Loren Photography
Photo: Jolie Loren Photography

A Q&A with Zac Brown Band’s John Driskell Hopkins

For more than 20 years, John Driskell Hopkins has crafted country music hits garnering worldwide praise and respect. Popularly known for his role as one of the founding members of the Grammy Award winning Zac Brown Band, Hopkins has many tricks up his sleeve that may come as a surprise to the occasional country listener. While on the road during their seventh tour, which stops in DC at the Nationals Park, Hopkins opened up to On Tap about his new John Driskell Hopkins Band, burdens of balancing his life, and his deep roots in performing that led to his self-proclaimed and widely accepted title of entertainer.

On Tap: Hi John! How are things with the Down the Rabbit Hole Tour?
John Driskell Hopkins: So far so good. We’ve been playing a lot of baseball stadiums, which is really exciting. Have you gotten to see many shows at a baseball stadium? It’s really neat because you get to set up back in the outfield and the whole thing seems to be built just for this scenario, but it’s not. Especially the ones with open air. It’s like an amphitheater but beautiful. I just think they’re perfect for concerts.

OT: What’s the meaning behind Down the Rabbit Hole?
JDH: Well, I think it’s really an opportunity to dip into our past and take chances. And of course it may mean different things to different people, like the Alice in Wonderland connection for some folks, but we’re trying to explore our input and our musical nature. We really want to share what’s next for us.

OT: What’s your favorite baseball stadium for performing?
JDH: I think it’s Fenway Park. No offense to any other stadiums, but that’s one of the oldest. I mean Fenway and Wrigley have this incredible history and a lot of these newer parks, like SunTrust, which might be one of the newest parks in the country, is really cool too, but it hasn’t been around long enough to have that kind of nostalgia. All these great players have been through here for so many years. Plus, Boston is a really neat town. They are really receptive to the band and it’s been a great thing to be a part of.

OT: Congrats on the new Brighter Shades Studios.
JDH: Thank you! We’re on the cover of Mix Magazine for the Class of 2018 New Studios. It’s been a really great opportunity to get some cool things recorded up there.

OT: How long have you wanted your own studio?
JDH: I’ve had my own studio for twenty years but it’s been in different spots. They’ve been in warehouses, preexisting studios, guest rooms, three car garages. But this is a great spot because I know I won’t have to move around anymore and I can let it grow, develop and vibe over the next few years. It’s something I’ve really pursued outside of playing live.

OT: Have you hosted other artists there yet?
JDH: My drummer, Mike Rizzi, just finished recording his record up there, and we did some recording for Darrell Scott, who is a big friend of the Zac Brown Band and of mine.

I’m taking on projects that are personal to me, outside of the ones that I do. So if it’s something that someone else is a part of, then it has to be something that I am connected to personally. But otherwise, it is an opportunity for me to do more. I’ve done a Christmas album up there. I’m working on my original record now and I did all the stuff for the movie that we’re featured in as well. So it really is a great spot to work and be creative and host things that are dear to me, like the John Driskell Hopkins Band.

OT: What will the John Driskell Hopkins Band reveal that we don’t get from you in the Zac Brown Band?
JDH: I think the folks that follow me personally know what to expect already, but the Zac Brown fans need to understand what’s going on. They can expect a singer/songwriter that speaks from the heart and does more Americana than country. But also, I kinda grew up in a bunch of rock bands so this may be a little more aggressive than they might expect.

OT: Did you say you’ll be on the big screen this fall?
JDH: Yes, this movie called Adolescence is a really cool independent film directed by Ashley Avis. I was able to have a small part in it, but more exciting for me was being able to write a bunch of the songs that are featured in the movie.

OT: What’s the movie about?
JDH: It’s about a coming-of-age for a kid who comes from a broken home and he gets mixed up in some bad stuff and then finds his way back out. Then a relationship forms with a girl that he’s involved with during that time.

He’s not a typical adolescent, like most kids in a stable environment, so it’s kind of an interesting twist on the word. But it’s a cool picture and I think it is very well acted, very well written and I like being a part of stuff like that.

OT: What role did you play?
JDH: I was a biker, who also happened to be the lead singer of a band [laughs], which was easy for me to jump into. He’s actually the lead singer of a fictional band named the Bloody Wolves of Venice, which we will use to put out EPs for the movie.

OT: How did you get connected with the film?
JDH: Well, I have a theater degree from Florida State, so I’ve looked to get into movies and things since I graduated. Actually, just before joining Zac Brown Band, I was in a play called Lost Highway.

I’ve always loved acting, I grew up in musical theater in high school and was really involved on stage for a long time.

OT: What were some plays you remember having a role?
JDH: We had a crazy program. We probably did 10 shows a year, and two of them were always full-scale musicals. So I was in all kinds of stuff like Godspell, Pippin, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Odd Couple; I can’t even remember them all.

OT: What was it like creating songs for Adolescence?
JDH: Well, this was my first time ever writing something based on a script. Most of the time my songs are based on my experience, and I guess I borrowed from my experiences a bit for Adolescence.

I think this project really gave me an opportunity to step outside of my comfort zone. To go write based on a script, like having to put myself in the place of the character as I write, was kind of cool.

OT: Was it a struggle writing for this character?
JDH: Well, my character is a lot more aggressive than I am. I guess some of those feelings and emotions are still present in me but from an angst driven, rock and roll youth, so I was able to revisit those feelings by putting in lyrics that had to do with his character. It was kind of a merging of the two artistic endeavors and I would love to do more of that.

OT: Will we be seeing you in more films?
JDH: Hopefully, but I rarely have the time to spare for rehearsals and shooting.

OT: How are you balancing your time with everything now?
JDH: It’s my biggest obstacle. I have a wife and three daughters at home who I need very desperately to spend time with when I’m there. So during the summer we go to the pool a lot. We try to go to the lake or beach and just to do things together. When they’re in school and kept from 7 a.m. – 3 p.m., that’s when I get my studio work done.

As far as taking on new movie roles, it has to be very specific. It’s hard because I generally never go more than four days without needing to be somewhere. It’s not very common for me to have two weeks to be a part of a shoot. So that’s the obstacle, but fortunately these opportunities occasionally materialize in many ways and hopefully other opportunities will present themselves.

You can see John Driskell Hopkins with the Zac Brown Band on Friday, July 27 at the Nationals Park. Tickets start at $43, and are available here.

Nationals Park: 1500 S Capitol St. SE, DC; 202-675-6287; www.mlb.com/nationals/ballpark

Photo: Emory Kristof, National Geographic
Photo: Emory Kristof, National Geographic

Untold No Longer: The Story of The Titanic You’ve Never Heard

We all think we know the story of the Titanic. The world’s largest, most luxurious ocean liner sank in 1912 – a triumph of engineering transformed into unspeakable tragedy.

We now know exactly where she lies, thousands of feet below the surface off the coast of Newfoundland, but the Titanic’s location remained a mystery for 70 years. Then, her story became entwined with a modern narrative of Cold War technology, the tragedy of lost nuclear submarines and a secret mission. This is the haunting, fascinating tale at the heart of the National Geographic Museum’s new exhibit, Titanic: The Untold Story, open daily through early January.

National Geographic Explorer Robert Ballard joined the Army during the Vietnam War, but went to graduate school and got a job building submarines. One December night in 1966, he got a knock at the door from a Naval officer.

“He handed me an envelope and said, ‘You’re not in the Army anymore, you’re in the Navy,’” Ballard told On Tap in a recent interview. “That began a long career of living two different lives.”

To the public, he was a well-known oceanographer, writing articles and researching ocean geology and hydrothermal vents. But Ballard kept working with the Navy and requested funding to develop remotely operated submersibles. The Navy agreed, and assigned Ballard a mission to locate, photograph and study the final resting place of the USS Scorpion, a nuclear submarine that sank in 1968. He was to locate the submarine’s nuclear reactor and nuclear weapons, and to get evidence that would help explain her loss.

There was a problem: it was the height of the Cold War between Russia and the United States, and it was imperative that Ballard’s mission avoid drawing the attention of Soviet intelligence. What better cover story for the mission than a search for the lost wreck of the Titanic?

The Navy added research on one more submarine wreck to Ballard’s plate: the USS Thresher, a nuclear submarine that sank five years before the Scorpion. The scientist was to study both the Scorpion and the Thresher to determine if the nuclear material from both subs was impacting the environment.

Though Ballard already knew what led to the Thresher’s demise, questions about the nuclear material remained. The reason the Scorpion sank, however, was inconclusive. Still, Ballard discovered her location using a phenomenon known as the sound channel.

“There’s a special layer about 1,000 meters down where all sound is ducted. If you listen in the sound channel, you can hear noises much, much further away. And we’re pretty sure that whales figured this out a long, long time ago, and that they use it for long distance communication.”

During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy set up listening arrays in multiple parts of the ocean to detect Soviet activity and recorded whatever sounds they picked up. Ballard said the Navy used these recordings to roughly determine the location of the Scorpion.

“We thought, ‘I wonder if we heard her die?’”

Sure enough, they heard the boom as she imploded in the deep. His towed camera system, the Argo, dove to depths of 9,800 feet to find and document the remains of the Scorpion. He had figured out that ocean currents created a debris trail as the Scorpion sank and followed the trail to the wreck.

He then realized he could use the same strategy to find the Titanic. With the allotted time for his mission nearly up, he found the Titanic at the very edge of the search area. He was awed by what he saw.

“I didn’t expect to be affected by this whole thing,” he said. “I’m a scientist and a naval officer, clinically doing things. But it spoke. I was bowled over by the impact of being there.”

Pairs of shoes litter the ocean floor around the wreck, marking where people who died and sank to the bottom once rested. Because leather shoes are treated with tannic acid, sea life won’t eat them and they remain preserved.

“It’s a tombstone. Nothing is small down there. Everything’s gigantic in size, but then there are these little pairs of shoes. It draws your attention away from the massiveness and the grandeur.”
Ballard noticed them every time he went back.

“Every time I made a return trip, I always knew, I saw those shoes and I said, ‘That was somebody.’”

He recalled returning to the Titanic in 2004 with new vehicles.

“I’m sitting in my command center with a beautiful high-definition camera and a remote control robot, and I’m just staying there. For days, I wandered the Titanic. And I got closure.”

Ballard’s secret mission was quietly declassified just a few years ago. Kathryn Keane, vice president of public experiences for the National Geographic Museum, was amazed to learn that the search for the Titanic was the cover story for Ballard’s mission. National Geographic staff were even on board with Ballard during his mission, and still no one knew.

“I thought to myself, ‘I didn’t know that, and I work here,’” Keane said. “If I don’t know this story, most of the public doesn’t know, either.’”

The new exhibit skillfully blends science, history and storytelling. You begin your visit awed by the technology and the mission’s secret backstory, and end by reading the personal stories of Titanic passengers and viewing amazing recreations of the Titanic’s rooms made for James Cameron’s 1998 film Titanic, which remains one of the most successful films ever made.

It’s a moving experience. Keane noted that this is the 50th anniversary of the sinking of the Scorpion, and the losses of both submarines – the Scorpion and the Thresher – and the “unsinkable ship” have far-reaching effects.

“The layers of tragedy surrounding this story impact generations of people,” she said of the Titanic.

It’s certainly difficult to picture the loved ones of these lost crews and ship passengers waiting in vain for good news without feeling their pain. The last artifact in the exhibit is a letter from President Ronald Reagan, designating the wreck of the Titanic as a memorial site.

And though undeniably one of the most pivotal moments of his career, Ballard isn’t interested in being known solely as the discoverer of the Titanic.

“My mother called me after we found the Titanic and said, ‘It’s too bad you found that rusty old ship.’ She understood hydrothermal vents and the science I was doing, and she said, ‘Now they’re only going to remember you for that.’”

But as Titanic: The Untold Story shows, Ballard’s contributions to ocean exploration are far greater than a single mission in 1985, and the story of these three lost vessels is greater than the sum of its parts. Keane said she hopes the exhibit inspires a generation of new explorers.

“One of the things we love to do here at the museum is invite families and get young people excited about exploration and science,” she said. “The story of the Titanic is why they’ve come, but if they come out of it interested in science, exploration, even in serving their country, that would be a victory for us because that’s what we do here.”

Titanic: The Untold Story runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily through January 6, 2019 at the National Geographic Museum. Tickets are $15. And don’t miss the Taste of the Titanic event on Wednesday, July 25 at 7 p.m. to experience the actual menus aboard the ship, from first-class cuisine to third-class nosh. Learn more at http://tasteoftitanic.com/

National Geographic Museum: 1145 17th St. NW, DC; 202-857-7700; www.nationalgeographic.org/dc

 

Taste of Titanic (600px)

 

courtney-barnett

Music Picks: July 2018

FRIDAY, JULY 6

Pusha T
The first time I heard about Daytona, the new Pusha T record, was at work. Everyone was talking about the seven-song album – and even the guy who never tweets had to tweet about it. The record is entirely produced by Kanye West, which may rub you the wrong way; however, this side of the studio booth may be better place for him at this point, and he entirely leaves the verses to King Push. The record is a crisp 21 minutes long, but fire from start to finish. This is the album we’ve been waiting for since the 2015 teaser Darkest Before Dawn. Show at 9 p.m. Tickets are $30. Echostage: 2135 Queens Chapel Rd. NE, DC; www.echostage.com

Shy Glizzy
Southeast DC’s own Shy Glizzy is coming to the Fillmore to remind y’all that the Young Jefe still runs things. His summer single “Do You Understand?” featuring Gunna and Tory Lanez premiered last month, and it’s one of the smoother beats he’s taken to rapping over, similar to the track “Dope Boy Magic” from 2017 release Quiet Storm. He may be slowing down the tempo of his music, but he’s keeping high momentum with constant releases, and I’m anxiously waiting to see what’s next for him. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $30-$100. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

Steve Bug
Steve Bug has been on the scene since 1991. That’s before I was even born, and yet his grooves have yet to grow tiresome. Born Stefan Brugesch in Germany, he’s become known over his career as the “Gentleman of Techno” for his professionalism, dependability and consistent sets. His body of work continues to strengthen with 2018’s Paradise Sold, a collaboration with Langenberg, another guru of the German deep house scene. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets start at $10. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

SATURDAY, JULY 7

Airøspace
Airøspace, the Southeast DC raised MC, is one we’ve been waiting for– at least those of us spending too much time listening to lo-fi beat tapes, as the instrumental tapes tend to grow stale quite quickly though, but he gives them the breath they need. Not all his tracks are lo-fi, though. On his latest release Hitagi, Vol. 3.1, you can find tracks that cull together a range of influences from trap to OSTs. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

Honey
DC rock trio Honey has a sound that’s much fuller than their lineup of guitar, drums and bass alone might lead you to think. I got to play with them once and what I realized is they are perfectly balanced; none of the voices are competing with one another. The chorus heavy guitar gives a real sense of depth, allowing the melodies in both the bass and vocals to stand out and the drums fill in the space between. From that show at Looking Glass Lounge to their EP release, they’ve come a long way in a short while. Doors at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $8. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SUNDAY, JULY 8

The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill 20th Anniversary Tour
For fans of hip hop and neo-soul, Lauryn Hill is a household name, along with Erykah Badu and D’Angelo. Hill’s debut record The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill propelled her to international stardom in a way no one could have predicted. Twenty years later, Hill is touring the record most responsible for her enduring legacy once again. Her live shows have been said to lack the swagger you hear on the record, but hopefully the Hill from the studio will show up for this one. Doors at 6 p.m. Tickets start at $20. Jiffy Lube Live: 7800 Cellar Door Rd. Bristow, VA; www.livenation.com

Rodriguez Jr.
Rodriguez Jr. is the latest project from south of France native Olivier Mateu. Previously he’s made music with the Youngsters, but Rodriguez Jr. seems to be the best iteration of his production yet. He makes dance music informed by both vintage synthesizers and avant-garde western art music, from Satie to Stockhausen. The latter influences are not clear, given how danceable the music is. Maybe they’re related in an emotional sense, but I find Rodriguez Jr. as more of a cinema-informed electronic musician. Doors at 4 p.m. Tickets $8. Flash: 645 Florida Ave. NW, DC; www.flashdc.com

MONDAY, JULY 9

The Octopus Project
The Octopus Project, if you couldn’t tell from the name, are an incredibly hipster group, as hipster as the Wes Anderson movies their music videos feel inspired by. That said, I’m excited for these psychedelic rockers to come through DC. From Austin, Texas, they describe themselves as indietronica for the number of synthesizers they use and their role in shaping the sound – though it’s a label which only becomes apparent after you hear it spoken. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $13. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC;
www.unionstage.com

WEDNESDAY JULY 11

Dent May
The “softest boy in Mississippi” is bringing “Across the Multiverse” to our neck of the woods this month on his tour supported by singer, guitarist Shannon Lay. This is his first release since making the move to Los Angeles, and for the label Carpark Records; he was previously signed to Animal Collective’s Paw Tracks label for his debut album in 2009. Across the Multiverse provides some chill, beachy summer vibes and May knows it. He even added some beer cozies and SPF 15 ChapStick to his merch offerings to emphasize the feeling, or perhaps as a nod to his own habit of applying lip balm every five minutes. Upon first listen to his newest album, this multi-instrumentalist, producer and self-described hotel bar lounge singer, gives me Elton John vibes with leading track “Hello Cruel World,” though his haircut and specs may have solidified that comparison a little more than I’d like to admit. Nevertheless, it’ll be a great show. 8 p.m. Tickets $12. Jammin Java: 227 Maple Ave. Vienna, VA; www.jamminjava.com

SATURDAY JULY 14

Now, Now
After a few years of self-discovery and a battle with writer’s block, KC Dalager and Brad Hale (a.k.a. Now, Now) are back with their most heartfelt and personal album yet. Saved is the follow up to the almost five-year radio silence after Threads, a record that earned them a coveted slot performing on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon in 2012. I’m going to be completely transparent here and say I assumed this band had broken up before hearing of this show, but I’m glad to hear the duo’s new music. “SGL” and “Yours” are the standout tracks from the album, but “Know Me” depicts the evolution of the band’s sound, while hearkening back to the hollow production and airy vocals that made their first impression on me on the Neighbors EP. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $15. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

SUNDAY, JULY 15

Halsey
You know her, you love her and you probably hear her singing whenever you enter a store geared to people under 30 or turn on the radio. Halsey is coming to Wolf Trap on the North American leg of her worldwide tour for her 2017 release “hopeless fountain kingdom,” which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 this time last year. Jessie Reyez is joining her on a majority of the U.S. dates, which makes a lot of sense because they both have a similar rawness to their lyrics, and feature a comparable vocal tone, despite being categorized as pop music artists. I’m looking forward to seeing what other surprises Halsey has in store for us, too. 8 p.m. Tickets $40-$80. Filene Center at Wolf Trap: 1645 Trap Rd. Vienna, VA; www.wolftrap.org

Outer Spaces
Balitmore-based Outer Spaces may be the headliner here, but this show includes a couple different acts, including DC’s Bacchae and Los Angeles-based Goon. Look for the post-punk band about as wild the revelry their name, ahem Bacchae, suggests. Goon’s provides a more downtempo way to follow up, but their songs are lush, even if not so Dionysian. Outer Spaces are more straight forward indie pop, but don’t let that be a deterrence; they’re the reason to be there. 9 p.m. Tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

Wild Moccasins
Could you start a band with the person you love? Could you be in a relationship with them for a decade all while keeping the band together? Could you end that relationship amicably and remain bandmates that still co-write songs that may or may not be about each other and/or your potential new flames, and then go on tour together? Zahira Gutierrez and Cody Swann could, in fact that’s exactly the basis of their new release Look Together that debuted on June 29. Just the backstory alone made me give them a listen, but their glamorous, catchy, synth-filled pop kept me around. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $15. Black Cat: 1811 14th St. NW, DC; www.blackcatdc.com

WEDNESDAY, JULY 18

Jake Clemons
Saxophone player Jake Clemons comes to DC not too long after finishing up a tour with Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. That’s right, Jake Clemons is none other than the nephew of the Big Man, Clarence Clemons, and he’s been performing in his stead since 2012, even playing his “Jungleland” solo. But the younger Clemons has his own music as well and released a solo record in 2017 titled Fear & Love. Doors at 6:30 p.m. Tickets $20. Union Stage: 740 Water St. SW, DC; www.unionstage.com

Slum Village
If you’re surprised about this show, don’t worry, I was too. I had no idea Slum Village was still slumming. The group, now comprised of Young RJ and T3 are touring their 2018 release The Lost Scrolls, which contains previously unreleased “relics” from the twenty-year-old classic Fantastic Vol. 2. Of course, Young RJ was not part of the crew back then; however, T3 was, and Young RJ was mentored by Slum Village original J Dilla. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $22. Songbyrd Record Cafe and Music House: 2475 18th St. NW, DC; www.songbyrddc.com

TUESDAY, JULY 19

Mourn
Three things come across in Mourn’s music videos: they’re very young, they’re very punk and they’re unabashedly Spanish. The quartet comes from Barcelona. In fact, they recently released a song “Barcelona City Tour,” one of the three singles released in anticipation of their latest record, Sorpresa Familia. From the music videos to the singles, you can tell the quartet finally has a bit of cash flow, and with that you can feel they’ve really come into their own. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $12. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

SATURDAY JULY 21

Deafheaven
This California-based sometimes duo, other times full band, makes a beautiful marriage of metal and shoegaze. The band has been camped out in Oakland recording their highly anticipated fourth studio album, Ordinary Corrupt Human Love. Their live shows are known for being so intense, they’ve inspired fans to leap onstage and lick frontman George Clarke’s shoes, so if that’s something you might be into here’s your chance to make it happen. Doors at 8 p.m. Tickets $20. 9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; www.930.com

SUNDAY JULY 22

DC101 Kerfuffle: Fall Out Boy, Rise Against, Awolnation, AJR, Robert DeLong, Mt. Joy, L.I.F.T.
DC101’s annual Kerfuffle returns with another stacked lineup. With legends like Fall Out Boy (who recently joined us here in DC to celebrate the Caps during the playoffs) and Rise Against, to the next great voices in alt-rock like AJR and Mt. Joy, there’s something for all music lovers at this all-day affair. Doors at 12:30 p.m., show begins 1:30 p.m. Tickets $55-$95. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

MONDAY, JULY 23

Del Florida
Del Florida, so far as I can tell, has almost little or nothing to do with Florida, and that’s ok. The half-neo soul, half-dream pop act was formed in Liverpool, and is now based in DC. The group is carried by the powerful pipes of lead vocalist Leela Dawson and the funky rhythm guitar. DC based Bottled Up will open for the group. Doors at 7:30 p.m. Tickets $10. Velvet Lounge: 915 U St. NW, DC; www.velvetloungedc.com

TUESDAY JULY 24

Courtney Barnett
While one of her most biting lyrics may be “put me on a pedestal and I’ll only disappoint you,” we’re sure you won’t be disappointed by Australian singer-songwriter Courtney Barnett live. She returns in support of her incredible sophomore album Tell Me How You Really Feel. While her collaborative album Lotta Sea Lice with fellow folk rocker Kurt Vile brought her to the District in 2017, we’re excited to see Barnett’s solo guitar slaying and acerbic lyrics when she headlines The Anthem solo. Joined by Julien Baker and Vagabon, don’t miss out on this night of incredible talent. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $40-$60. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

WEDNESDAY JULY 25

Echo & the Bunnymen and Violent Femmes
Two iconic 80s acts join forces on the same bill for one retro night. What better way to cure your mid-week blues than by trekking to The Anthem on a Wednesday to sing along to classics like “The Killing Moon” and “Blister in the Sun”? Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $55-$75. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com

THURSDAY JULY 26

Shannon & the Clams
Cal Arts student turned bass guitarist Shannon Shaw and her band are bringing their 60s inspired psychedelic pop to DC for the release of their fifth album Onion, supported by Big Huge and Australian experimental pop band Gauche. Of the title track and album name, Shaw says, “I had this epiphany that was likening an onion to being human and how you’re nothing without layers of experience. Each time you have an experience it creates another layer in the onion […] Each song on this album is about problem-solving and having realizations about yourself.” 7 p.m. Tickets $15. U Street Music Hall: 1115 U St. NW, DC; www.ustreetmusichall.com

FRIDAY, JULY 27

Frass Green
The bio for Frass Green on Spotify simply reads “joe tyler matt antonio,” which is about as opaque as their music or their artwork. But this lo-fi dream pop act is DC based and quite young. Joe Antoshak is the lead songwriter and began the project in his garage, the quality of which still seems to come through in the music. Be sure to check out their garage rockabilly tunes as they climb the ladder of DC venues. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $13. Rock & Roll Hotel: 1353 H St. NE, DC; www.rockandrollhoteldc.com

Glue Factory
What I like about the lead single off DC band Glue Factory’s debut record S/T is the contrast between what’s being said and what you’re hearing. First there’s the post-punk verse, which feels good, even if it feels familiar, but then it goes into a similarly familiar chorus. It’s more melodic and more pop, but still has the feel-it-in-your-bones punk element. At the same they’re singing about having “maggots in your eyes.” I never thought I would be lulled into singing those words. The show also features Positive No and Warm Sun. Doors at 10 p.m. Tickets $12. Comet Ping Pong: 5037 Connecticut Ave. NW, DC; www.cometpingpong.com

SATURDAY JULY 28

David Byrne
If you missed the Talking Heads frontman at his sold-out show at The Anthem in May, fear not! The icon is back and not to be missed. I was wildly lucky to catch him on the first run, and it was nothing short of magical. Byrne achieved setlist nirvana, with a healthy combination of solo songs, Talking Heads classics and more from his ever-growing catalogue. If you’re still not convinced, every ticket purchased online for David Byrne includes a CD of the new album American Utopia. You’ll receive instructions via email on how to redeem your album shortly after ticket purchase. Plus, he’s supported by Benjamin Clementine, who just happens to have the voice of an angel. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show at 8 p.m. Tickets $60-$130. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

SUNDAY JULY 29

Lightmare
From their first show at Looking Glass Lounge (with the aforementioned Honey), Lightmare has had a quick ascendancy on the DC scene. The six-person, soul-punk arrangement will ask if you’ve ever been in love and if you wonder where the wild things are, and then prompt you to look for their debut record soon thereafter. The show also features the Prabir Trio and Wooden/Apple/Heart. The Richmond based trio writes psych-rock rooted in the Beatles “drenched in enough Tequila to make it slouch,” while Wooden/Apple/Heart is another DC band with an innovative take on folk. Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $10. DC9: 1940 9th St. NW, DC; www.dc9.club

Warped Tour
I feel old as hell writing about the absolute last Warped Tour in history. I never got to experience the magic of Warped when I was a teenager and then it would’ve mattered more to me, but if this particular music scene was ever important to you, you should come out for this bittersweet last hurrah. Close the book on your teen angst the right way with bands like Simple Plan, 30H!3, The Maine, Mayday Parade, Four Year Strong and August Burns Red with many, many more. Doors at 11 a.m. Tickets $39-$55. Merriweather Post Pavilion: 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy. Columbia, MD; www.merriweathermusic.com

WEDNESDAY AUGUST 1

Rico Nasty
One of the most exciting new rappers to rise out of the DMV is none other than Rico Nasty. She’s a versatile artist with a killer fashion sense and several aliases who pioneered her own sound called Sugar Trap, which is sweet as pie and tough as nails at the same time. She takes inspiration for her music from many genres, citing Slipknot as one of her influences, and using piano samplings that eerily resemble Vanessa Carlton’s iconic “1000 miles” in one of her older tracks “Brandon.” Her show at the Fillmore is one of the first few on her “Nasty” tour, and this album marks her first release after signing with Atlantic last month. This is a can’t miss show, so come out and see her live because I already know it’s gonna be “Poppin.” Doors at 7 p.m. Tickets $20-$50. Fillmore Silver Spring: 8656 Colesville Rd. Silver Spring, MD; www.fillmoresilverspring.com

THURSDAY AUGUST 2

Father John Misty
For those not familiar with his career, Josh Tillman went from unassuming Fleet Foxes drummer to sweet and understated solo artist before exiting whatever weird cocoon he had to live in to become his alter ego Father John Misty. Say what you will about his general attitude and reputation for making headlines throughout the blogosphere for his caustic comments – the man can write a damn good song. His most recent album God’s Favorite Customer sees him breaking character and getting a bit more personal. We’re still not entirely sure what to expect from this show, other than the excitement of knowing anything’s possible with this enigmatic and abrasive artist. Doors at 6:30 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m. Tickets $45-$55. The Anthem: 901 Wharf St. SW, DC; www.theanthemdc.com